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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Justice Department Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Muskegon County, Michigan

WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice announced that it has entered into a consent decree today with Muskegon County, Mich., that, if approved by the court, will resolve the Department’s lawsuit against the county alleging that a former employee was subjected to sexual harassment that caused a hostile work environment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), national origin or religion.

The complaint, filed in December 2008 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, alleges that Muskegon County violated Title VII by failing to take adequate remedial measures to remedy ongoing sexually harassing behavior perpetrated by the former employee’s coworker. According to the terms of the consent decree, Muskegon County will pay $120,000 in damages to the former female employee on whose behalf the United States filed the lawsuit. In addition, Muskegon County will modify its policies and procedures to provide clearer guidance to supervisors and employees regarding the handling and reporting of sexual harassment. Muskegon County also will provide equal employment opportunity training to all supervisory employees within the county’s circuit and district courts, where the conduct outlined in the underlying facts of the lawsuit took place. Muskegon County has advised the Justice Department that it has already begun implementing some of these corrective measures.

"The Department of Justice commends Muskegon County for working cooperatively to resolve this case without protracted litigation, and for taking positive steps to provide a workplace free of harassment for its employees," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

More information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp/index.html.

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